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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In Focus: December 2013

Labels: In FocusNew ProductsGear
This Article Features Photo Zoom
Even with the improvements in brightness and contrast for the typical camera's LCD monitor, they can be tough to see clearly in bright outdoor conditions. It becomes a real challenge when shooting video, since you don't have the option of using your optical viewfinder. That's when an LCD viewfinder loupe like the Flashpoint Swivi can make a big difference, providing a 3x magnified view of your camera's LCD and blocking out competing ambient light. The adjustable mounting bracket makes it easy to adjust to your camera model. Estimated Street Price: $150. Contact: Flashpoint (Adorama), www.adorama.com. —WP
Outdoor photographers often like to shoot with very long exposure times. A landscape specialist might want to blur moving water, for example, or shoot wide open to minimize depth of field in a selective-focus flower close-up; or an architectural shooter might want to use a long exposure time to cause random people wandering through the scene to magically "vanish." In bright light, this can be a problem. The answer is a light-reducing neutral-density filter. Which one? Well, a variable one provides a wide range of strengths in a single handy unit. The Kenko Variable NDX ND2.5-ND1000 provides strengths from 2.5X/1.5 stops to 1000/10 stops (practical limit 450/8.5 stops); just rotate the ring to the strength you desire. While some variable ND filters can shift color or have other adverse effects, the NDX uses a depolar­ization plate to minimize such problems. It's available in 77mm and 82mm sizes. Estimated Street Price: $260 (77mm); $350 (82mm). Contact: Kenko Tokina USA, www.kenkotokinausa.com. —MS
Some photo adventures make carrying a heavy DSLR and lenses impractical or even impossible. For worry-free photography just about anywhere, Nikon's rugged Coolpix AW110 is waterproof at depths down to 59 feet, freezeproof down to 14º F and can withstand drops up to 6.6 feet. Great for the rigors of outdoor sports or as a backup camera that fits in your pocket, it features a 28-140mm equivalent zoom, 6-megapixel resolution, full 1080 HD motion capture, GPS and built-in WiFi for instant sharing to your tablet or smartphone. Estimated Street Price: $289. Contact: Nikon, www.nikonusa.com. —WP
As the very first lens to include an internal teleconverter, the Canon EF 200-400mm ƒ/4L IS USM telephoto zoom with Extender 1.4x is capable of covering a massive zooming range of 200mm to 560mm. Canon seems to have pulled out all the stops on this lens, so to speak, and when the teleconverter is engaged, the constant ƒ/4 aperture drops only a single stop to ƒ/5.6. Testing on the L-series lens has shown remarkable imaging quality whether using the teleconverter or not, and making it even more versatile for nature photographers, the minimum focusing distance is only 6.6 feet. The lens also offers three different modes of image stabilization for up to four stops of handheld shake reduction, important when working with such an extended telephoto range. List Price: $11,799. Contact: Canon, www.usa.canon.com. —DW
BlackRapid's sling straps provide comfortable carrying and quick access to your camera. The Sport R-Strap features an underarm brad for added stability when you're on the move in the field. It's available in right- and left-handed versions, and regular and slim models to suit users of all sizes. The strap can be hand- or machine-washed, and air-dried. Estimated Street Price: $73.95. Contact: BlackRapid, www.blackrapid.com. —MS
AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6G ED VR
Nikon has long had a gap in the affordable telephoto lens category. If you wanted to go beyond 300mm and have the quick-quiet AF-S focusing motor, you had to spend over $6,000 for the AF-S 200-400mm ƒ/4 VR zoom. There was an under-$2,000 VR 80-400mm zoom, but it didn't have the AF-S motor. Nikon finally did something about that in 2013, introducing the latter lens' successor, the AF-S 80-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6G ED VR. The AF-S Silent Wave motor provides much quicker autofocusing (and will autofocus with all Nikon DSLR bodies, even those that don't have built-in AF motors), while the new optical design (with four ED elements and one Super ED element vs. three ED elements in the earlier lens) provides better image quality. The newer VR (vibration reduction) system also is better, rated at four stops (vs. two for the original lens). Maximum magnification is 0.2x at the minimum focusing distance of 5.7 feet. The new lens covers FX (full-frame) format, but also works well with DX (APS-C). Dimensions are 3.8x8.0 inches and 56.0 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $2,699. Contact: Nikon, www.nikonusa.com. —MS

A headlamp is, quite simply, one of the most useful devices you can have in your bag. It has all sorts of obvious benefits like walking a trail in predawn or post-sunset light, but as I've gotten older and I've needed glasses to read, I've found that having a headlamp makes it so much easier to see the controls on my camera. The Petzl Tikka Plus 2 has a high-output white LED and a red LED, and it can be set as a strobe for emergencies. Estimated Street Price $39. Contact: Petzl, www.petzl.com. —CR


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